Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sweeping declarations and baby steps

Last January I wrote a post where I declared 2012 "the year of making new friends."

And then I either promptly forgot about it, or at least forgot to act on it. Because here we are, days away from the start of December and I can't say that new friends has been what this year was about. 

But, I have taken a few baby steps in that direction, going outside my comfort zone a bit and accepting invitations, and in some cases, instigating them. 

In fact, now that I think about it, an invitation that I extended led to receiving one. Hmmm.... funny how that works. 

Pretty much immediately upon moving to my neighborhood almost four years ago I started volunteering for some community events. I met a great group of people who organize said events and we've become friendly acquaintances. I really only had hung out with one of them beyond committee meetings and at events, but last month I ended up suggesting that she and another girl and I get dinner. 

Calendars were hectic, things came up unexpectedly and dinner plans shifted to Sunday brunch a few weeks later. And it was fun. Good company and yummy food in a near by neighborhood I never actually venture to on my own. And, it was a restaurant whose owner had competed on Chopped on the Food Network awhile back, which was pretty cool as I'm a big fan of the show. 

I mentioned it while we were there, and that I heard another local chef was going to be on the show soon and, as luck would have it, one of my friends was going to the viewing party when the show aired and she invited me along.

The party was on Sunday night and as the designated hour approached I was so very tempted to cancel.

I wouldn't know anyone else there and the people I was going with would know so many people. I was tired. I wouldn't know anyone else there and the people I was going with would know so many people. I wouldn't get home until close to midnight and it was a work night. I wouldn't know anyone else there and....

Well, you get the point.

But, I went.

And it was a lot of fun. Both getting to know these acquaintances better and the party itself. 

Let's hope I remember this a little better than I remembered that initial declaration!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Calendar Check

I think I must have entered an alternate universe. It is the night before Thanksgiving, right?

I left work early today to head out of town for Thanksgiving. I got on the road a few minutes before noon and I was expecting to avoid some traffic, but still have a few back ups here and there.

There was no traffic. At all.

I got to my destination and hit the nearby outlets as I've learned over the years that most have their Black Friday sales minus a few 'door busters' up and running already without huge crowds.

The stores were virtually empty.

My last stop before coming to the house was the grocery store to pick up a few things. My mom will arrive tomorrow morning with the bulk of the Thanksgiving food, but I needed to get milk and stuff to make dessert. I pulled into the Giant parking lot and had my choice of parking spaces, right near the door. No shortage of carts inside and no more people in the store than any other week night.

I don't understand where all of the people are.

I'm not complaining mind you, I quite enjoyed my quick drive, stress free shopping and easy trip through the grocery store. I'm just feeling like I missed the memo, got my days mixed up and really am expected to be at work tomorrow, not enjoying yummy food and Redskins rivalry football.

Anyone else out on the road or in the stores tonight? What are things like for you?

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I have way too much stuff.

I've always been a bit of a pack rat, but lately I swear my bedroom is looking more and more like it did during my teen years than any other time in the ensuing decades. Today I made a dent, but it's a tiny one. Tinier than the dents I put in my dad's car, while driving my mom's car shortly after I got my license.

The problem with getting rid of the stuff is that the easiest way to do it would be to just throw everything away without going through it. But, I know if I do that I'll be throwing away stuff I just don't want to get rid of.

But going through it takes time, effort and a place to actually put the stuff once I discover I want to keep it. I also struggle with the whole donating versus recycling versus garbage issue. Again, just throwing it all away is the easiest, but I know that's pretty irresponsible.


I'm not willing to photograph the mess because, well, no. But here's a diagram of the current status:

This makes it look much better than it is.
Which is why diagrams >  photos. 

And that actually represents progress. We're not going to talk about all of the stuff that until today had made itself quite at home in much of that "actual clean floor space." We're also not going to talk about those few days a couple of weeks ago where I basically just had a pathway from the door to the bed.

I have friends coming to visit at the end of December and the goal is to have a neat, clean, organized room by the time I'm playing hostess. (Technically I'm playing hostess next weekend when my best friend comes to visit, but, we were roommates for three years, two of them in a 15 x 15' dorm room so she doesn't really count.)

The countdown to me actually having a neat, organized, grown-up person's room has begun.

Wish me luck. I'll need it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lots of Motion

It's been a long week.

I can't believe it's only Thursday, though I did spend much of yesterday convinced it was Tuesday, so I'm all kinds of clueless.

I had a 2 day board meeting at work, and a webinar with 200+ people registered. Both went really well, but added just a touch of stress to my week. And of course there was the election, which added more than a touch of stress to my easily worried brain. But, that went really well too. Really really well actually.

Either way, I'm tired. And I don't have much to say right now. But I felt compelled to post, so I figure I'll treat you to Ron Pope's latest music video for his song City in Motion.

It's wonderful, of course.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Good People

I've been reading Vince Flynn's books for easily five years now. I first heard him talking about a new book on Elliot in the Morning and was intrigued. A friend of mine heard the same segment and took the plunge and started buying the books. I borrowed the first one from him and was hooked.

If you aren't familiar, Vince's books are CIA/counter terrorism themed. They are suspenseful, engaging and in many cases frighteningly accurate in terms of similarities between the fictional world of his main character Mitch Rapp and what we hear on the news these days. They also aren't really a genre I generally read much of, but I really really love these books.

Shortly after I started reading the series I mentioned it to my dad as books I thought he'd like. I'm sure my mom started off getting them from the library, as my parents don't buy books as a general rule, but soon my dad was so hooked on the series as well he made it a point to buy all of the books, even ordering hardback copies of some of the older ones from secondhand bookstores online. I don't think he had ever made an online purchase before, but he was determined to have the full collection.

Luckily, that made shopping for him a bit easier for awhile, as I always knew the latest Vince Flynn book would be the perfect Christmas or birthday present.

This summer, while things were still pretty good with my dad's health, he asked when the next Mitch Rapp book was coming out. I checked the website and discovered it was scheduled for release in mid-November.

As the summer wore on my dad started going out less and less, his energy level was pretty low. So he was home all of the time and he was going through books at a pretty good pace. This was also around the time we discovered that his treatment wasn't working and they had to switch to a new, and their last, option.

I decided to try and get an advance copy of the book. Some google sleuthing turned up his publisher's name as well as her Assistant and Associate Editors. A bit more sleuthing and I figured out the email address format for their company, wrote my message and sent it off hoping I'd get a response, but not really expecting it to work.

I also emailed the producer of the Elliot in the Morning radio show, since Vince is a regular guest there, to see if he had any tips on how I could get an advance copy of the new book.

Within 24 hours I had responses from all three people I contacted.


The new book was still being edited so there weren't any ARC's available to send yet, but as soon as one was, I was assured I'd get it. And then a day or so later I got a follow up email - the Editor had shared my note with Vince and he wanted to send an autographed copy of his last book for my dad.

About two weeks later, the ARC of The Last Man arrived in the mail. And within a few days of that, a hardback copy of Kill Shot, with the inscription to the left came as well.

Both such awesome gestures. I couldn't believe my random plea actually worked.

The unfortunate part is that cancer sucks and the books came too late. While it was only a few weeks, from when my dad was relatively healthy and reading 3-4 books a week, waiting for the new one from his favorite author, til when the books arrived, it was enough time for the medicine to stop, the cancer to spread and us to lose him.

I got the ARC the day after he died. And the autographed copy shortly after the funeral.

I hate having to tell that part of the story.

I wish I could be writing that he got the books and got to read the new one himself. Or even that I got to read it to him (though, some of the rather... um, fiesty, language would have made that a bit awkward!). I hate the way this story ends. I hate it because I miss my dad so much. But also because I feel like the ending takes away from the really nice thing that these total strangers did. How they went out of their way to get this book to me because of a random email that showed up in their inbox on a Thursday morning.

So please, let your takeaway from this post be that there really are good, nice, caring people in this world. People who will go out of their way to give a stranger going through a tough time a pick me up.

And if you've never read Vince's books, I encourage you to check them out. My mom is even planning to start reading through the collection now, well, right after she finishes the latest from Debbie Macomber and Danielle Steel...